This is part 1 of data management best practices blog series based on insights and real-world examples from Insightly customers.

Managing data: Top 3 roadblocks to effective data use (Part 2)

Managing data: How to accelerate revenue growth with data (Part 3)

Data is rapidly reshaping business as we know it.

With the advent of scalable, cloud-based storage and compute technologies, intuitive CRM integrations, and robust APIs, the appetite and capacity for data has never been greater. Companies of all sizes — especially midsize companies — are turning to data to understand their customers, streamline operations, and build healthier relationships.

Drawing from the insights revealed in Insightly’s customer stories, my next few blog posts will feature real-world examples of how midsize companies are effectively leveraging customer data to fuel growth.

In this first article, we’ll explore why customer data is so important.

1. Data delivers a more complete understanding of customers

It’s difficult to serve customers without a proper understanding of who they are, what they need, and what is their ability to buy. Midsize companies often find themselves in a quandary: they want to better understand their customers, but they lack the necessary resources to effectively harness a limitless pool of data.

The good news is that some midsize companies have figured it out. Just ask PWG and VAe, Insightly customers, who are happy to share their experience and best practices. Let’s take a closer look.

PWG uses interaction data to personalize the experience for 200,000+ guests per year.

PWG’s 42,000 square-foot training and retail facility in Southern California is among the largest of its kind in the United States and attracts thousands of new visitors annually. The company aggressively promotes itself to customers via email, SMS text, and online channels, resulting in millions of demographic and interaction data points.

Without the right approach, making sense of so much data could seem like an impossible task. However, by centralizing its sales and marketing activity into a single, integrated customer database, PWG cuts through the noise and zeros in on the data that delivers results. In particular, PWG leverages out-of-the-box CRM integrations to automatically merge relevant data from other business systems, such as webform submissions, campaign analytics, and product interest information.

PWG’s point of sale integration enables the type of personalized cross-selling and upselling that will move the sales needle.

“As customers buy certain products, we’ll be able to recommend complementary products that meet their needs,” says John Phillips, President & Founder of PWG.

Learn more about how PWG uses data to understand and engage its customers.

VAe uses program data to accelerate veteran reentry into civilian life.

VAe’s innovative work training program helps veterans with service-related disabilities transition into meaningful civilian careers. The program’s proven track record coupled with its full-immersion format that mirrors active duty training has yielded rapid growth for the organization.

Before VAe can help, however, it must first obtain an in-depth analysis of each veteran’s needs.

“Understanding each veteran’s unique situation has always been a top priority for us,” says Matt Vargas, COO at VAe. Centralizing all veteran contact and background information under one roof is mission-critical for achieving this goal.

CRM pipeline management simplifies tracking of each veteran’s progress and streamline the collection of related information, such as certification documentation and job interview outcomes. With a few clicks, internal stakeholders gain real-time access to key business metrics, including job placement rates, average salary data, and interview success ratios.

Read more about how VAe harnesses data to serve more veterans.

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2. Data streamlines the delivery of goods & services

Data should also play an equally important role in shaping (or reshaping) internal business practices. Reducing and eliminating internal delivery roadblocks creates a virtuous cycle, often resulting in happier customers, lower production costs, greater capacity, and, ultimately, improved bottom-line performance.

Here’s how two Insightly customers are leveraging data to do exactly that:

The Waite Company uses activity data to increase educational outreach.

Recognized as one of the top PR firms in New Mexico, The Waite Company was recently tapped by the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange to increase community awareness for the beWellnm program. Under the contract, The Waite Company is responsible for managing 26 outreach programs across more than 30 counties.

Engaging thousands of community leaders, nonprofits, and other constituents requires a seamless alignment between contact information and outreach activity data.

“Our team manages the outreach for beWellnm, which includes making phone calls, sending emails, and mailing packets of information,” says Jason Marshall, Program Director at The Waite Company.

All activity is logged securely in The Waite Company’s CRM, which fosters collaboration, standardizes the team’s follow-up workflow, and yields a streamlined delivery of services. Intuitive reporting offers transparency to the client, which demonstrates value and avoids potential discrepancies during invoicing.

See how The Waite Company is using data to engage more constituents.

HeroX uses pipeline data to ensure a seamless customer experience.

Large companies from across the globe are turning to HeroX’s community of 98,000+ “heroes.” The innovative platform brings new meaning to “crowdsourcing” by solving the world’s most complicated societal and business issues.

Interacting with major brands and corporations can be an intricate, time-intensive process that requires significant coordination and many layers of feedback. Dozens of contacts and hundreds of emails may be related to a single project, which can cause confusion during the handoff from sales to implementation.

HeroX avoids the confusion by using their CRM to convert opportunities into projects, delivering a 360-degree view of the customer’s entire journey. Key conversations, emails, linked contacts, project requirements, and other project-specific data points are easily accessible by anyone with proper access. Workflow automation and CRM Gmail integration accelerate the collection of data, freeing up more time to ensure total satisfaction.

3. Data is the foundation for healthy, lifelong relationships

“It’s easier to sell to an existing customer than to a new one.” It’s been said many times, by many people across the business landscape. But, is it actually true for medium sized business? With the right combination of data and IT systems, midsize companies can move beyond the cliches and test different strategies that boost customer engagement and encourage brand loyalty.

Let’s look at how Kimberbell Designs and Millers Music use data for long-lasting customer relationship building.

Kimberbell Designs uses merchant and event data to build a favorable brand image.

Quilting and sewing is more than just a hobby. For some, it’s a way of life. That’s especially true for the countless retailers and distributors who sell products made by Kimberbell Designs.

To help solidify long-term brand awareness in the industry, Kimberbell Designs sponsors quilting and sewing events throughout the United States. The events, which are hosted by certified merchants, require significant follow-up and outreach.

“Our events have a lot of moving parts and require close coordination with store owners,” says Brielle Lowry, Events Coordinator at Kimberbell Designs.

Effectively following up with retailers demands a rock-solid relationship management system, one that provides at-a-glance access to merchant contact information, store-level (organizational) data, employee information, and related correspondence. Email inbox integration, with email tracker, simplifies data collection, while relationship linking accelerates customer outreach, resulting in better events and healthier relationships.

Read more about Kimberbell Designs’ approach to relationship management.

Millers Music uses customer feedback to deliver elite service.

For more than 160 years, Millers Music has kept the joy of music alive and well in Great Britain. And, as Great Britain’s second oldest independently-owned music store, Millers Music understands the importance of creating lifelong customers. To stay competitive in an era of “big box” retail stores, Millers Music must continuously implement new business processes to ensure each customer relationship is healthy and thriving.

Over the past decade, the company has been particularly focused on refining its approach to data collection and use. “By collecting the right data early in the sales cycle, we’re able to better understand our customers, work through more leads, deliver higher levels of service, and be more successful,” says Simon Pollard, Managing Director at Millers Music.

Customer contact details, product interest data, financing preferences, and other relevant criteria (such as consumer vs. B2B) is collected and managed with ease by leveraging Insightly’s mobile CRM app, CRM Gmail integration, and web-to-lead forms. All of this information is tracked through pipelines, ensuring each customer receives the personalized assistance that he or she expects and deserves.

With a streamlined data structure and collection process in place, sales reps stay focused on building long-term relationships that keep things humming.

Check out Millers Music’s story for more tips on building healthier customer relationships.

Next Up, Data Bottlenecks

If you’ve enjoyed this article, stay tuned for the next post that focuses on common bottlenecks to effective data use.

Also, be sure to check out all of Insightly’s customer stories.

Ready to try Insightly’s customer data management and reporting capabilities?

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